Apr 5th, 2020

Family Gardening During COVID-19

kids in the garden

The Parker kids on a visit to Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden earlier this year. Image courtesy of Amanda Parker.

Amanda Parker believes everyone can find joy in plants. She and her husband Mike have raised their kids with a focus on being outdoors and gardening has always been a big part of their lives. During the COVID-19 pandemic, family gardening can play an even more important role in bringing the family together to focus on a project outdoors — away from technology and stressful world events. Plus, gardening is a natural social distancing activity and you can use what you already have on hand to get things started.

“Our family has always been an outside family. We love spending hours outside together,”  Amanda says. Most weekends you will find the Parkers outside in the family garden.  Her hope is that the family garden projects instill the same love and appreciation for nature and the outdoors that she and Mike have.

Right now, with COVID-19 restrictions in place, they’ve got a bit more time on their hands and gardening is even more of a focus.

“We are growing three different varieties of zinnias with a hope to have a cut garden and also share with neighbors and friends,” she says. During this challenging time, we can’t think of a better way to share small joys with others to reach out to others.

The Parkers have started with easy-to-grow flowers including zinnia, which also happens to be No. 1 on our top 5 plants for kids list. They are growing three different kinds of zinnias (semi-dwarf Pumila mixed colors, lilliput mixed colors and a mini-zinni mix) so the kids can see many varieties of the same flower.

zinnia sprouts coming up. These will be transplanted into the family garden

Zinnia sprouts emerging. The Parkers labeled the rows so they could keep track of which type of zinnia. Image by Amanda Parker

Part of their strategy to keep the kids interested is from a very young age they have always have our children out in the yard working alongside them.  “They have their own gardening tools and gloves, and sometimes you will find them helping to plant with us, but other times they are collecting flowers, sticks, leaves, grass and whatever else we have and making potions. Our kids also have fairy garden furniture that they love that we are constantly relocating around the yard. And of course, the sprinklers and hose are always a big hit in the warmer months.”

Family Garden

As you can see, gardening quickly turns into other outdoor activities that the kids love. She says the kids spend lots of time catching and identifying different kinds of bugs and birds in the family garden.  One thing just leads to another.  Amanda emailed with this enthusiastic note:

“Just this week we found not one, but two snakes in our backyard while clearing the mulch around plants for fertilizing and we caught them and relocated them in the wooded area behind our house. The kids absolutely LOVED it!”

“It makes me proud that our kids can be out somewhere and say ‘Mom, look at that ligustrum! It is so much bigger than the one in our yard!’ Or to walk out of the library and see a goldfinch painted on the sewer drain (North Courthouse Library) and be able to identify it. They are fearless exploring our yard and it never gets old hearing them yell ‘Grab the bug kit!'”

Her biggest tip to other parents hoping their kids spend more time outdoors?

“Let them get dirty and don’t be afraid to try new things in your yard or buy that houseplant.”

kids in the garden

The Parker kids learn teamwork during outdoor play at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden.

Jonah Holland is Digital Content Manager at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden, where she has worked for 14 years overseeing social media, the blog, and the website. She is also a mom, yogi, open water swimmer, gardener, and seeker. She's been known to go for a walk in the Garden and come back with hundreds of plant photos, completely inspired to write her next blog post.

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